Nov 5 2009

Book Short: Chip Off the Old Block

Book Short: Chip Off the Old Block

I have to admit, I was more than a little skeptical when Craig Spiezle handed me a copy of The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey, at the OTA summit last week. The author is the son of THE Stephen Covey, author of the world famous Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as well as The Eighth Habit (book, post). Would the book have substance and merit or be drafting off the dad’s good name?

I dog-ear pages of books as I read them, noting the pages that are most interesting if I ever want to go back and take a quick pass through the book to remind me about it (and yes, Ezra, I can do this on the Kindle as well via the bookmark feature). If dog-ear quantity is a mark of how impactful a book is, The Speed of Trust is towards the top of the list for me.

The book builds nicely on Seven Habits and The Eighth Habit and almost reads like the work of Stephen the father. The meat of the book is divided into two sections: one on developing what Covey calls “self trust,” a concept not unlike what I blogged about a few months ago, that if you make and keep commitments to yourself, you build a level of self-confidence and discipline that translates directly into better work and a better mental state. The other core section is one on building trust in relationships, where Covey lists out 13 behaviors that all lead to the development of trust.

In fact, we just had a medium-size trust breach a couple weeks ago with one of our key clients. Reading the book just as we are struggling to “right the wrong” was particularly impactful to me and gave me a number of good ideas for how to move past the issue without simply relying on self-flagellation and blunt apologies. This is a book full of practical applications.

It’s not a perfect book (no book is), and in particular its notion of societal trust through contribution is a bit weak relative to the rest of the book, but The Speed of Trust is an excellent read for anyone who wants to understand the fastest way to build — and destroy — a winning culture. It reads like a sequel of Covey senior’s books, but that’s a good thing.